Ready with 44,000 vaccinators, more than 4K administration session sites for phase-I vaccination drive: Mamata
Kolkata: Stating that Bengal is "fully prepared" for a successful rollout of vaccine from January 16, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday informed Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the virtual meeting that as many as 44,000 vaccinators and more than 4,000 vaccine administration session sites across the state have been identified for the phase-I Covid vaccination drive.
The Chief Minister questioned "what will happen to the remaining 127 crore of the country's population if the vaccination programme in the initial two stages would cover only 3 crore people" and sought a roadmap regarding the entire process at large. She also asked if the states have to "purchase" the same for the rest of the population (beyond the already-prioritised categories) in the state and urged the Centre to provide necessary guidance, if needed, toward such procurements. This comes when the Bengal government has already announced to give free-of-cost vaccines to everyone in the state.
Banerjee also urged the Centre to provide Covid vaccine to transport workers by considering them as frontline workers. She mentioned that data of 5.8 lakh government and private health workers have been uploaded in the portal for vaccination during phase I. Data of around 2.5 lakh police personnel and 1.25 lakh municipal workers are also being uploaded.
Mentioning about the Centre's specific decision in favour of both the vaccines leaving no option for the states to choose or procure only one, Banerjee wondered whether adequate scientific confirmation was available in support of both the vaccines (Covishield and Covaxin) that are now being offered by the Centre in the country and argued that adequate scientific opinions should be obtained before confirming the safety and efficacy of both the vaccines. She also requested clarification on the possibility of post-vaccination side effects. Later, member of NITI Aayog Prof (Dr) Vinod K Paul said both the vaccines are completely safe based on scientific evidence and there is no evidence of serious side effects.
Sharing the state's preparedness details, Banerjee spoke about Bengal's move to set up a state-level steering committee headed by the Chief Secretary along with separate task forces at state, district and block levels. "Members of the task forces are meeting regularly for ensuring all necessary manpower, infrastructure and logistical arrangements to ensure vaccination programme in a time-bound manner," Banerjee said adding that there is adequate storage capacity for Covid vaccines with thorough inspection and necessary upgradation of all the 941 cold chain points.